Formed way back in the primitive years of two-thousand-and-nothing came (the) Numbers. Riding on the back of the Fall's “Light user Syndrome” unashamedly, Eric Landmark (synthz), Dave Brochema (guitar) and Indra Dunis (vocals/drums), settled in for the jaunt.

Retirement age should have come in early (try 20 years early) as the Fall(en) relaxed and got real lazy. Alternatively, Numbers put in double time, double energy and get double the output. This is where the difference lies; Numbers' power-driven energetic vigour produces a deservedly successful sound, whereas the Senior-citizen-railcard-holders on the old white train are now so far off the mark it's not even funny. Another word of advice from the Mighty Mighty's, I seem to remember was: stay away. Well, suits me.

Numbers are from Oakland, CA, which is not necessarily a bad thing, considering the build up of bands falling from that side as of the moment (some front of the queue scenesters may even claim it to be the new Detroit & Electro to be the new garage - all we have to wait for now is the big slam of mainstream media coverage, arrogance of a special sort and the kidz self importance issues to over-shadow their music). Numbers create a pulsating disco-punk reflecting the corrupt and fractured modern world we live in. They crash through, but don't forget to make judgement when required, in which they 'appear' (interpretation can be misleading) to leave us with respect worthy comment.

Despite falling in line with 'the now' Electro wave of bands such as Erase Errata and Pink+Brown, Numbers have a slightly different take, rejecting polished clean-cut Electro for a dark & rough, unorganised version. At the same time they wouldn't sound out of place slammed centrally in the crazed abstract ideals of the early eighties, which may explain where their particular blend of noise derived.

So far Numbers have done alright. Their debut album, “Numbers Life”, was firstly released on kid 606's Tigerbeat6 label, but has since been re-released across Europe on Artrocker (conveniently around the same time as an appearance on Peel). Not that this buzz of sudden interest isn't due, as “Numbers Life” is an impressively complete first shout. The LP is side to side filled with muffled agonistic vocals, sliding grating guitars, repetitive mechanical drumming and a variety of digital bleeps, blips and beats from Landmark's homemade 'Buzzerk' synth.

“We Like Having Things” acknowledges consumerism. Indra Dunis' quietened shouts are responded to with the easy pick-up back-chant of “I am the end user/ I am the product chooser”. An assured floor filler down at the discotheque, and dominant crowd pleaser.

“Intercom” consists mainly of three words, allowing the music to take lead. With an overpowering distorted digital bass line, screeching fuzzed guitars and a factory flowing drum pattern, there is a gradual build up, as the mass of sound accelerates and then unexpectedly the brakes are slammed down, coming to an abrupt head jolting end. & repeat.

Despite the general good feel of “Numbers Life”, it isn't without negatives and fails to escape a few downers, which compromise the LP a tad: “I Transfer” tries too hard. It’ss over the top, crammed with far too many lyrics & destroys the overall sound. “Prison Life” is repetitive, droning, weak, tiring and boring.

“Too Cool To Say Hi” is dubious. Openly revealing the arrogance and conceitedness they hold throughout, whilst also displaying their rip-off skills in full light. At this point, perhaps somebody should push them back into the line of third unit replicators to which they belong, and remind them that they did not start this revolution.

Ignore these tracks and all will be well.

Numbers are at their foremost in all things fast and electronic and so the thrashing speed at which they race makes it even more fitting that this (full-length?) debut finishes shy of 20 minutes. Whether they like it fast, or are just short of time we don't care, it works.

Yes, Numbers do openly display their swayers, allowing sounds from Devo and Gang of Four to 'accidentally' slip into full view, but hey, didn't hurt Jonathan Richman when he checked in with The V.U. So what if people have problems distinguishing between borrowing and full-blown stealing others ideas, does it really matter? And fuck, if they wanna play the name dropping game, who am I to stop them.

Numbers may knock off huge chunks from their obvious influences, but whilst being unable to let go of the not so distant past, they still make an artfully blind-eyed grab at the future. If there was a better way of doing it, it would've already been done (wouldn’t it?).

Nat Shooter

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